The Japanese government will soon formalize its decision to dump contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, despite strong local opposition.
This information was reported on Friday by several Japanese media. “The government has not decided on the plan to follow or the moment” to announce it, however reacted the spokesman of the government Katsunobu Kato during his regular press briefing. But “we cannot postpone a decision (on this contaminated water, editor’s note), in order to prevent the dismantling work of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from being delayed”, he added.
The government is expected to finalize the solution of a discharge at sea by the end of the month, while the operation itself is not expected to start until 2022 at the earliest, several local media have previously said.
A thousand tanks
About 1.23 million tons of contaminated water are currently stored in more than a thousand tanks near the nuclear power plant ravaged by the terrible tsunami of March 11, 2011 in northeastern Japan.
This water comes from rain, groundwater or injections necessary to cool the cores of nuclear reactors that melted after the tsunami. It has been filtered several times to be rid of most of its radioactive substances (radionuclides), but not of tritium, which cannot be eliminated with current techniques.
Various solutions evaluated
With on-site storage capacity expected to reach saturation in mid-2022, the Japanese authorities have evaluated various solutions in recent years. In early 2020, experts commissioned by the government recommended dumping at sea, a practice that already exists in Japan and abroad on operating nuclear installations.
This preferred option to the detriment of other scenarios, such as evaporation in the air or sustainable storage, is particularly strongly contested by the fishermen and farmers of Fukushima, fearing that this will further deteriorate the image of their products among consumers.
South Korea worried
Neighboring South Korea, which still bans the importation of seafood from the region, has also already expressed concerns about the environmental impact of such a solution.
Tritium is only dangerous to human health in very high doses, according to experts. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also pleads for the option of dilution at sea. Asked by AFP, a spokesperson for the operator Tepco did not comment on the information from the operators either. media.
afp / jpr